Apple CEO pledges to put patients’ health before profits

Apple is looking at the broader healthcare ecosystem and not just those ventures that can make the firm money, according to CEO Tim Cook. 

The remarks were made in an interview with Fortune, a day before the company launches its latest iPhone model.

Speaking on a variety of subjects, from the ever-evolving Apple Watch to its attempt to aid in the clinical research industry with ResearchKit, Cook hinted toward a busy future in healthcare for Apple.

“There’s much more in the health area. There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t tell you about that we’re working on, some of which it’s clear there’s a commercial business there. And some of it it’s clear there’s not. And some of it it’s not clear. I do think it’s a big area for Apple’s future.”

But the overarching theme of Cook’s answers centered on Apple being different to competitors in that it focuses on what will help people, rather than what will make the company money.

One of the biggest opportunities to do so is expanding into the healthcare industry, explained Cook:

“If you look at it, medical health activity is the largest or second-largest component of the economy, depending on which country in the world you’re dealing with. And it hasn’t been constructed in a way where the focus at the device level is making great products from a pure point of view.”

He added: “The focus has been on making products that can get reimbursed through the insurance companies, through Medicare, or through Medicaid. And so in some ways we bring a totally fresh view into this and say, ‘Forget all of that. What will help people?’”

Cook’s biggest example of exactly that is the iPhone based health research tool, ResearchKit. He said: “We put out ResearchKit and made it a source so that people could run enormous-sized studies,” he said. “There’s no business model there. Honestly, we don’t make any money on that. But it was something that we thought would be good for society and so we did it.”

Although plenty has been speculated about the Apple Watch – with potential features allowing diabetes patients to monitor blood sugar – little has been revealed in the way of the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X smartphones.

The announcement later today could include the rumoured Apple take on electronic patient records, plans of which were leaked by CNBC earlier this year.

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